“How do Continuing Professional Development (CPD) organizations make decisions about CPD strategy and operations during a health or societal crisis?”
The way CPD organizations adapted at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic prompted a team of researchers from the University of Toronto to explore this question further.
Morag Paton, Education Research Coordinator at CPD, Temerty Faculty of Medicine, was part of the team that conducted this research. She recently presented the findings at the Society for Academic Continuing Medical Education (SACME) Annual Meeting, where she received the Fox Award for Best Research Presentation.
Transformation in Time: A Case Study of Decision-Making in Continuing Professional Development Organizations during a Non-Normative Event
Through 13 qualitative interviews with CPD leaders from the University of Toronto and SACME, the team identified 4 initial phases in how CPD organizations reacted to the pandemic’s impact: shutdown, pivot, transition, and a new reality.
While many programs and conferences were postponed or cancelled during the early days of the pandemic, Paton says this presented an opportunity for CPD organizations to re-imagine how they develop and deliver learner-responsive programming.
During the pivot and transition phases especially, “[CPD] organizations put a lot more thought into delivering effective, engaging CPD content online,” Paton describes. Factors such as “learning design and sustainability” became more intentional, as we advanced our knowledge about creating programs for virtual learning in mind, rather than replicating in-person programming in an online environment.
However, as mentioned in the literature and by some of the research participants, “CPD organizations did not always grasp opportunities that were available.” Perhaps, organizations could have collectively organized “more longitudinal, engaging, and innovative programming during this time,” Paton shares.
These are lessons learned from the pandemic. Paton is optimistic “there are opportunities for CPD to be really innovative [and] really dynamic.”
Just as learners demonstrated adaptability and flexibility, CPD organizations must also evolve during periods of change.
Reflecting on her presentation, Paton emphasizes the research was a truly collaborative effort. Led by David Wiljer (CPD) and Suzan Schneeweiss (CPD), team members from the University of Toronto included Paula Rowland (The Wilson Centre) and Walter Tavares (The Wilson Centre), and from the United States, Bita Zakeri (Northeastern University) and Betsy White Williams (University of Kansas).
The SACME Annual Meeting is a forum for clinicians, academics, and CPD professionals to share developments in continuing professional development practice and research, interprofessional and team-based education, and innovations in program design.
This year’s event convened March 14 – 17 in Nashville, Tennessee with hybrid components under the theme “Inspiring and Igniting the CPD Imagination.” Members of the University of Toronto received four of the seven awards distributed.
Sophie Soklaridis (Department of Psychiatry) received the Dave Davis Research in Continuing Medical Education Award. Kenya Costa-Dookhan (MD Program) was recognized with the Best Early Career Researcher Award. The Fox Award for Best Research Presentation was presented to Morag Paton (CPD) and Sanjeev Sockalingam (Department of Psychiatry).
Congratulations to all presenters and honorees.